52 Franklin Street

52 Franklin Street, Provincetown (2011), by David W. Dunlap. 
Describing a Provincetown house as a mysterious, exotic, tumble-down hodge-podge doesn’t really narrow the number of suspects meaningfully. So, let’s note further about 52 Franklin Street — which, appropriately, has an important John Waters connection — that there are windows where a roof should be, walls where windows should be and the general air of a 1960s mash-up.

That is, if you can even find it, since it sits in a little hollow tucked at the bottom of the hill on which Chaim Gross worked and lived.

52 Franklin Street, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap.Some of the hybrid qualities can be explained by the fact that the house (c 1850) was bought in 1962 by Dr. Samuel Klauber of Boston, a physician who remodeled it to serve his practice. He built an office, a treatment room, an X-ray room, a waiting room and a residence. He opened his practice here in June 1963, promising medical service around the clock, and the town’s other two prominent physicians — Dr. Daniel H. Hiebert and Dr. Thomas F. Perry — attended the welcoming reception. Dr. Klauber’s wife served as his medical technician. He was joined two years later by Dr. Lon Curtis, but the Franklin Street clinic closed soon thereafter.

John Waters (b 1946) and Mink Stole (b 1947) lived here briefly at an important stage in their lives. In a 1997 interview with Gerald Peary for Provincetown Arts, Waters recalled: “The first time I had a glamorous apartment was in 1970 when I lived with Mink away from the water, on Franklin Street, where Chaim Gross’s studio was. It had a glass roof with different colors in the glass, and a pool, and a bridge you walked over, and a fireplace, very Kim Novak.”

52 Franklin Street, Provincetown (2010), by David W. Dunlap.In the same issue of Provincetown Arts, Stole recalled her romance here with Vincent Peranio, the production designer of all of the Waters films: “We had a torrid love affair and it was my first experience playing house. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, and I made a heartshaped cake. Sappy! We were so poor we had to give up cigarettes. In winter, we took LSD and walked on the dunes. There was no sliding; the sand was frozen solid.”

Peranio, too, had memories: “Mink and I had a rather torrid, story-book romance. After, we would scream in the streets. She’d come into a coffee house and say, ‘I wish I could have a child named Vincent and kill it.’ How can you break up in P’town and not see each other? I moved for a month into a tent.”

Sue Harrison, the former arts editor of The Banner, lived in the same apartment in 1977, as she recalls in her comment below. “When I lived there,” she told me in 2012, “we called it the ‘space ship’ because when you drove up, all those colored panels glowing in the night looked like a flying saucer nestled down on the ground.”

The house was offered for sale in 2010 for $659,000 as a “development or fixer-upper opportunity in a rustic west setting,” but was not on the market as of 2012. It’s been owned since 1992 by Maria Bizzotto, the proprietor of Friends of Heart at 301 Commercial Street. • Assessor’s Online Database ¶ Updated 2012-12-30

52 Franklin Street, Provincetown (2012), by David W. Dunlap.

One thought on “52 Franklin Street

  1. I, too, lived in this wonderful house, in that same apartment with the glass panels, around 1977. The large room with the glass panels was at one time an aviary (or so I was told). Supposedly, two sisters owned it way back and had birds and plants in there as a sort of greenhouse. There were trees and a small pool that had to be crossed with a bridge. In the aviary room is a drain so whatever was in there could be hosed down.

    The living room has a traditional fireplace and in the small room on the opposite side of the kitchen is a wonderful beehive fireplace. There were two other apartments in the house; nothing unusual that I recall about them.

    One other thing of interest is that the lot was large and ran all the way to the Y-shaped crook in Franklin Street. A piece was carved off and sold and became the Lilac Court Condominiums. People were so outraged by the size and density that the planning board was able to finally get support at Town Meeting for putting growth and building size controls in place. That was in the ’80s sometime and yes, I was on the planning board then, too.

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